Search Form
font size: Increase | Decrease | Reset
Norwich Heart, Heritage Economic & Regeneration Trust

Norwich Composers 3

Further Norwich Composers


Group C:  Principal Composers born before 1885 (from c.1745)


Thomas Garland

Thomas Garland was baptized in Norwich Cathedral on 5th July 1731 and died 23rd February 1808.  He was the son of a tailor who carried on his business in the Lower Close, having moved there with his wife Isabella from Swanton Morley in 1723. 

He was appointed organist of the Cathedral in 1749, aged 18 - from which it is assumed he must previously have been a chorister or organ pupil to have been thought capable of undertaking the role.  He married Rebecca Dyball in St. George's, Colegate on 22nd June 1761.  From about this time (firstly on 19th July 1760, then 23rd July 1763 and subsequently) he began to organise concerts, some at 'Mr Christien's Room' and some at 'the Assembly Room of Chapel Fields House'.   From 1773 the Cathedral hosted annual charity concerts for the benefit of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.  In 1807

Mrs. Garland died and was buried in the cloisters. 

 Garland was a pupil of Maurice Greene and composed a Funeral Procession and Dirge for a production of Romeo and Juliet, which was enacted in the Theatre for the week beginning 20th February 1758.   A few of his works were printed: there is a setting of Come Holy Ghost in Burnett's Sacred Harmony (1865).  A Volume of the Norwich Catch Club contained Go South Gals by him and Dr. Mann knew eight of his anthems existed in Manuscript books in the Cathedral.  Otherwise, little of his music has survived. 

An anonymous ear-witness account of the standard of the Cathedral choir and its music under Garland about 1795 is cited by Watkins Shaw,

'Well do I remember the delight with which I used to listen to the Service in Norwich Cathedral, when the minor canons, eight in number, filed off into their stalls, Precentor Millard at their head, whose admirable style and correct singing I have never heard surpassed; Browne's majestic tenor; Whittingham's sweet alto; and Hansell's sonorous bass; while Walker's silver tone, and admirable recitation found its way into every corner of the huge building.  Vaughan was then the first boy who acquired his musical knowledge and pure style under his master, Beckwith.  Frequently it would happen that the entire music of the day was written by members of the choir, for Garland, the organist (a pupil of Greene) was a composer of no mean talent.' 

Probably, Garland's greatest significance was to identify, work with and encourage outstanding musicians to reach their full potential.  John 'Christmas' Beckwith was his Master of the Choristers, he heard the boy Zechariah Buck singing in the street and told him 'you must come and be my choir boy', and he taught James Hook. B


  • Peter Aston and Tom Roast - Music in the Cathedral, in Norwich Cathedral Church, City and Diocese 1096-1996, ed. Ian Atherton and others.
  • N. Boston - The Musical History of Norwich Cathedral (Norwich 1963), originally published in Reports of the Friends of Norwich Cathedral 1938-9.
  • Watkins Shaw - The Succession of Organists at the Chapel Royal and the cathedrals of England and Wales from 1538 (1991).

James Hook 

James Hook was born in Norwich on 3rd June 1746 and died in 1827 in Boulogne.  He was born in the parish of St. John Maddermarket, the son of James Hook, razor grinder and cutler.  He had a disability, being born with a clubfoot, but after a number of operations, 'he could walk in a limping manner tolerably well' (Dr. Mann). 

Taught by Garland for a while, he was something of a child prodigy, being able to play the harpsichord at the age of 4, performing concertos in public at 6, and before he was 8 composing songs and his first opera.  Although the music is lost, this was considered by connoisseurs to be an 'extraordinary instance of infantile genius' (Mann). 

In 1758 Hook's father died, so his mother carried on the cutlery business.  James continued performing concertos (from 13th November 1756 at benefit concerts), teaching, composing, transcribing music and tuning keyboard instruments.  Like Morley before him, he went to London (some time between June 1763 and February 1764).  There he made a name for himself as an organist and composer of light attractive music, especially songs (most notably being employed at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens from 1774 as organist and composer), and as a teacher and performer of keyboard concertos. 

It is estimated his income from teaching was over £600 p.a.  He continued to return to the Norwich area to perform concerts in which he played many of his own compositions until about the time of his Vauxhall Gardens appointment.  He was also in demand to 'open' new organs in London and the surrounding counties. 

On 29th May 1766 Hook married Elizabeth Jane Madden at St. Pancras' Old Church in London.  She was a talented artist and painter and provided verses for some of his Vauxhall songs and a libretto for an opera The Double Disguise (1784).  His son James (born 1772, died 5th February 1828) provided some librettos, as did his second son Theodore Edward (born 22nd September 1788, died 24th August 1841) for eight operas and the words for many of Hook's songs.  Hook's wife died on 18th October 1805.  On the 4th November 1806 Hook married his second wife, Harriet Horncastle James (died 5th April 1873). 

Hook wrote over 2000 songs.  The majority were composed for specific singers.  They were published as single copies or in an annual collection (from 1767) -the latter easier than the former, which use operatic coloratura.  The autograph manuscripts show Hook's meticulous care in noting all the details of singer, performance, date etc.  His most famous song is The Lass of Richmond Hill.   Hook stands as the exemplar for many minor Norwich-born composers who wrote songs in this period for performance here.

Hook is also noteworthy for his keyboard concertos.  He utilised the newly-developed pianoforte in his compositions.  In 1820 he unexpectedly left his position at Vauxhall Gardens.  It is not known why. 

Relevant Recordings

  • English 18th-century Keyboard Concertos  (Hyperion) CDA66700 or (Helios) CDH55341.
  • English Classical Clarinet Concertos  (Helios) CDH55261.
  • Fairest Isle (Hyperion) CDA67115. contains Hook's song The Emigrant
  • O tuneful voice (Hyperion) CDA66497  includes Hook's song The Lass of Richmond Hill


My thanks to Keith at Prelude Records in Norwich for his advice on the above "Discography".


  • New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians [NGDM], 2nd Edition (2001), Ed. S. Sadie, Volume 11 (article by Pamela McGairl).

John 'Christmas' Beckwith 

John Beckwith, eldest son of Edward and Mary Beckwith, was born in Norwich on 25th December 1759 and died here on 3rd June 1809.  The discrepancy between his age at death (and birth year) given in the Norwich Chronicle (49 = 1759) and that given in the registers of St. Peter Mancroft where he was buried (58 =1750) has now been decided in favour of the former with the discovery during recent alterations to the Church of a memorial slab in the floor of its nave.  This gives the date of his birth as 25 December 1759. The name 'Christmas' used for his burial seems to have been no more than a nickname: his compositions simply name him as John, and Magdalen College registers call him John William Beckwith.  For most of his life he was referred to as John Beckwith junior to distinguish him from his uncle (John Beckwith senior, 1728-1800). Only in a few sources in the last years of his life was he referred to as 'Christmas' - possibly to distinguish him from his son, John Charles.  It has since become the name by which he is best known.

John Beckwith became an outstanding organist.  In August 1783 William Crotch met him, 'he was now assistant to Dr. Hayes.  He presented me with D. Scarlatti's Lessons and I well remember him playing the Cat's Fugue in a most masterly style.'   The anonymous earwitness in 1795 (qv. Garland) described him as 'a most accomplished extempore player on the organ' and the Gresham Professor of Music, Dr. Edward Taylor, once declared, 'I have never heard Dr. Beckwith's equal upon the organ'.

Beckwith studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1775.  In 1784 he returned to Norwich to take up the post of assistant master of the Cathedral choristers, a position apparently created for him by the Dean and Chapter.  He took an active part in local concert life and (with Michael Sharp) organised (and was festival organist in) the Grand Musical Festivals held in Norwich in 1788, 1790 and 1802.   He succeeded his father as organist of St. Peter Mancroft in January 1794, retaining this position when he became Organist and Assistant Master of the Choristers in the Cathedral in 1808 (appointed 12th August).  He took the Oxford DMus degree in 1803.  He died of paralysis on 3rd June 1809 and was interred under the organ at St. Peter Mancroft 'agreeable to his own desire'.   Beckwith married Mary Elizabeth Cox of Oxford in April 1785 and they had 3 children.

Beckwith was in great demand to 'open' new organs in Norwich (eg St.Andrews, 28th October 1808) and towns around (cf. Hook).  He had a great reputation as an extemporizer.  The Gentleman's Magazine for 1809 extolled the 'genius with which he conceived . . and . . the style in which he performed his inimitable voluntaries'.   He left a number of voluntaries, keyboard sonatas (and a concerto), glees, songs and anthems, most notably The Lord is Very Great from his 6 Anthems in Score (1785).  These are 'innocently melodious'.

He introduced the first Sung Service at St. Peter Mancroft in 1792 and his The First Verse of Every Psalm of David with an Ancient and Modern Chant (published in London in 1808) contains the first idea of marking the psalms (in red) so that 'the choir might recite as one person'.  It also notes that he was occupied for up to 14 hours daily 'in the most slavish part of my profession'.      

Relevant Recordings

  • Six Voluntaries for the Organ (1780) may be heard on the Werner Icking Music Archive -
  • Historic Organ Sound Archive East Anglia CD - see


  • Tom Roast - The Beckwiths of Norwich: in British Music, the Journal of the British Music Society, Volume 18 (1996).
  • NGDM Vol. 3, and see under Thomas Garland (above).
  • Norwich Chronicle extracts were collected together under the title Norfolk Annals by Charles Mackie; this is available on line as an Ebook.

John Charles Beckwith 

John Charles Beckwith was born in Norwich 1788 and died here in October 1819.  He was the eldest son of John 'Christmas' and Elizabeth Beckwith. He was organist at the Octagon Chapel and then at both St. Peter Mancroft and the Cathedral (succeeding his father who also held both posts concurrently) from 1809 - 1819.  His Cathedral appointment dates from 4th September 1809.  Like his father he conducted and directed the Norwich Festival (eg. 4th November 1809, 14th - 19th October 1817) and 'opened' organs (eg. in Swaffham church 26th March 1818).   From 1817, John Charles began to be incapacitated through illness (Zechariah Buck, assistant cathedral organist, exercising full responsibility); he died in October 1819.  There is some divergence about the exact date.  

It is conventionally given as 19th October but the Norwich Chronicle gives it as 5th October, aged 32, and states that his 'remains were interred on the 11th in a grave beside that of his late father beneath the organ loft of St. Peter's Church'.      

He wrote an account of his father's life, which was included in T.D. Eaton's Musical Criticism and Biography (1872). 


See previous entry above. 

William Crotch (as composer)

William Crotch was born in Greens Lane, Norwich, on 5th July 1775 and died at Taunton, 29th December 1847. 

He was the son of a carpenter who loved music and had built himself an organ in which the child began to show an interest when little more than 18 months old.  When two years and three months old he had taught himself to play God Save the King on this instrument and a picture of him playing still exists, as does one of him playing the organ in the Chapel Royal at St. James' Palace aged 3 - which was before the King. His mother encouraged him in these tours (cf. Mozart).  By the age of 7 he was playing the violin and piano.

He went to Cambridge as assistant to Dr. Randall, the organist at King's College (1786), then to Oxford (in 1788) where he became organist of Christ Church (1790), Professor of Music in the University (1797), taking his DMus in 1799 and conducting music room concerts.  Towards the end of 1805 he went to London.

Crotch was one of a number of organists who from 1809 gave a series of performances of the works of J.S. Bach at Surrey Chapel, Blackfriars Road, London.  What we now call the 'organ recital' had its British beginnings in this non-conformist place of worship. 

Crotch was also a painter: some 1200 of his paintings and drawings are in the Norfolk & Norwich Record Office. 

In 1812 his oratorio Palestine was produced - the first moderately successful oratorio composed in England since Handel's day.  Crotch never printed the score: instead he charged 200 guineas for loan of the parts and his own attendance as conductor.  He became the first Principal of the Royal Academy of Music in London in 1822, making the composition of church music an important part of its teaching.  He resigned in 1832.

In 1842 he published his Rules for Chanting the Psalms.  It is not, perhaps, wholly ironic that several of his Anglican chants are the only pieces composed by him that are still in regular use.  He also composed organ concertos, symphonies, songs, anthems, 3 oratorios, and arranged music for piano.   With his painting, lecturing and teaching he did not fulfil his early playing and composing promise.  He died suddenly at the home of his son, the Rev. W.R. Crotch.

Relevant Recordings:

  • Crotch - Symphony in F etc. (Unicorn-Kanchana) W 255688, Milton Keynes Symphony Orchestra, Hilary Davan Wetton. 


  • See above NGDM Vol. 6; with use of the HOASM website article.


Zechariah Buck

Zechariah Buck was born in Norwich on 9th September 1798 and died on 5th August 1879 in Newport, Essex.  His father was a tradesman in the parish of St. Peter-per-Mountergate. 

He was admitted to the Cathedral choir on 10th September 1807, having been heard singing by Thomas Garland (qv.,see above).  After ceasing to be a chorister (in 1816) he acted as assistant organist to John Beckwith and, on the latter's death, became Organist and Master of the Choristers on

15th October 1819.  'Dr. Buck's talent for training boys' voices was simply outstanding' (Alfred Gaul) although he was 'a very strict disciplinarian'.  He yet had a kindly disposition, as Dr. Mann noted.  The result of his training was that Jenny Lind, visiting Norwich in 1847, said she had 'never heard children sing so well'.  

He was particularly insistent on bringing out the meaning of the words.  He was always on the lookout for boys with potentially outstanding voices, however 'poor and ragged', and would train such 'Trial-boys' at his own expense until they merited a place among the choristers.  Perhaps he was mindful of his own opportunity when heard by Garland. 

As an organist he mastered the techniques of pedal playing, although there were no pedals on the Norwich Cathedral organ for some years.

In 1824 he aided George Smart in managing the first Norfolk and Norwich Triennial Festival.  In August 1853 he received the complimentary degree of Doctor of Music from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Summer.  For the last twenty-two years of his tenure of office, Buck rarely played the organ: these duties being carried out by Edward Bunnett (born Shipdham, Norfolk, 1834) who 'ably discharged practically the chief duties of cathedral organist'.

Buck had very strong likes and dislikes: he did not like Honorary Canons and there is a case of Buck putting on an anthem called Lord, how are they increased that trouble me at a service when some new Honorary Canons were to be installed.  Annoyed that a family by the name of Waters inevitably arrived late, Buck arranged that on one occasion they were met by the choir singing Save me O God, for the waters are come in.

Buck was not a very prolific composer, but he did write a great many chants (found in Dr. Bunnett's Sacred Harmony 1865), 5 hymn tunes, settings of the Sanctus and Responses in G and F, an Evening Service in A and 6 Anthems including I heard a voice from heaven (1849) and Have Mercy.  

Buck resigned his appointment as Organist and Master of the Choristers from September 1877, his last service being September 17th 1877 at which his evening service in A was sung.  He went to live with his son, Dr. Henry J. Buck, at Belmont House in Newport, Essex, where he died, aged 81.


  • See above.   Much of Frederic G. Kitton's biography, A Centenary Memoir (1899) is to be found on the website -

William Richard Bexfield

W. R. Bexfield was born in Norwich on 27th April 1824, the third son of Thomas Bexfield (a chair maker) and his wife Anna, and died in London on 29th November 1853.

Bexfield became a chorister in March 1832 at Norwich Cathedral, where Zechariah Buck was so impressed by his talents (e.g. an anthem for eight voices composed when he was aged 11) that he took him as an articled pupil at the age of 14.  A chant used at a special service in the cathedral to commemorate the Queens' marriage in February 1840 was one of Bexfield's compositions. He became a proficient organist, playing Bach's fugues at 17 years of age, and also learnt violin, trumpet, trombone, drums, and piano.  He became a skilled improviser.     

In December 1845 he was appointed organist of St. Botolph's, Boston and in February 1848 elected organist at St. Helen's, Bishopsgate in London from 38 candidates, Vincent Novello being the adjudicator.  He was admitted to the Oxford BMus before the end of 1846, the performance of his compositional exercise An Orchestral Anthem eliciting a written testimonial on the merits of his performance from William Crotch, the examiner.  In December 1848 he acquired the Cambridge MusD.   In April 1850 Bexfield married Mary Ann Millington, the daughter of a Boston solicitor and they came to produce 3 sons.  He played some of his concert fugues for organ at the Crystal Palace in August 1851 during the Great Exhibition, creating a sensation, particularly with an improvisation he called Representation of a Storm.  Unknown to him, the Queen listened to his 9 a.m. practice and on his early death authorised a gift of 20 guineas and her private chamber band to play in a benefit concert (raising 500 guineas) for his widow.  

His oratorio Israel Restored was performed by the Norwich Choral Society in October 1851 and on 22nd September 1852 at the Norwich Music Festival.  

It had been given great advance publicity and attracted much attention because it seemed to be placed in rivalry with Pierson's Jerusalem. 

The latter's work was more original and more popular with the Norwich audiences and national Press; Bexfield's was conservative, containing fugal choruses along Handelian lines and even a fully-fledged French Overture.

It was by no means a worthless composition and was well received when revived at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1880. 

Bexfield was undeniably a gifted composer and 'it is believed that had he lived he would have been another Purcell in Church Music' (Kitton).  His heavy work-load (including lecturing) led him to neglect medical advice and he died from ulceration of the bowels in his London home, 12 Monmouth Road, Bayswater on 29th November 1853, aged 29.  His remains were interred in the Churchyard of St. Mary's, Paddington Green.  There a tombstone was erected to his memory with an inscription at the base reading, 'A few brother-professors have erected this stone in token of their admiration of his great talents and many virtues'.    

Apart from the oratorio Israel Restored, Bexfield composed some attractive songs (words as well as music), church music and learned but heavy fugues. 

These works were all published in London - 8 Chorales (February 1846), 6 Songs (1847), 7 Church Anthems (for 5 to 8 voices, 1849) and A Set of Concert Fugues.  In addition 2 separate anthems, 2 glees and a trio exist in manuscript.  Bexfield's Musica di Camera Opus 4 (1848) is a collection of chamber music.  It contains 17 pieces: 11 solo songs, many with words by Lord Byron including one on the death of his cousin Margaret, a duet, chorus and round with words from Twelfth Night and obbligato parts for violin (the Kitten's Scherzo), bassoon, clarionet and piano - all attractive and competent.     

Some of Bexfield's compositions were performed in Norwich long after his death.  Extracts from Israel Restored were sung at the Cathedral until 1877 and played as voluntaries by organist Edward Bunnett thereafter.  A Kyrie, Sanctus and Creed in F were sung at St. George's, Colegate for 5 years up to 1894.                                                                                                             


NGDM Vol.3.

Frederic G. Kitton - A Centenary Memoir, Zechariah Buck.

Tom Roast - One Hundred Pupils of Zechariah Buck.

Norwich musicians compiled by Arthur Henry Mann. 

Frederick Cook Atkinson 

F. C. Atkinson was born in the parish of St. John Maddermarket, Norwich on 21st August 1841, the third son of William Cook Atkinson, a labourer, and his wife Elizabeth. He died in East Dereham, Norfolk, on 30th November 1896.  His father died when he was only a few months old, his mother was illiterate and the family lived in poverty.

Atkinson had a notable treble voice and joined the cathedral choir at Michaelmas 1850, leaving it at Michaelmas 1855 when he was apprenticed to Buck.  For a time he played the organ in St. Stephen's church and his earliest compositions date from the period 1855-1860.  In 1861 he married a widow, Rosa (or Rose) Lucy Edwards who was about 10 years older than he. She had been married to Robert Edwards, a licensed game dealer, and they lived at Croxton near Thetford and had a son William.  The Atkinsons were to have 5 children, both the boys becoming professional musicians and Ernest the organist at St. Cuthbert's, Thetford from 1885.

Turning down an appointment in Hereford, Frederick Cook became organist and choirmaster at Tonbridge School from the summer of 1861 until August 1862. He then moved to Bradford, initially as organist and choirmaster at St. John's, Manchester Road and later St. Paul's, Manningham.  He obtained his Cambridge BMus in June 1866 and visited Norwich on 30th December 1867 to give an illustrated lecture on 'Old English Songs'.   

He was appointed organist of Norwich Cathedral in 1881, taking up his duties on 1st May.  He held a prominent place in the secular music making of the city, singing 'with the most refined taste and finish' and accompanying.   In 1885 he resigned 'in favour of musical work at Cheltenham'.  The resignation was received at a special chapter meeting on 15th September and formalised on 26th November.  This work only lasted a few months.  In June 1886 he took up the post of organist at St. Mary's Parish Church, Lewisham near London where he remained for 9 years until ill-health forced him to resign at Michaelmas 1895.  Briefly organist at St. Anne's Eastbourne from New Year to April 1896, he returned to Norfolk.  He suffered from diabetes which led to gangrene and a stroke and died at Clarence Villa, East Dereham, the home of his daughter Blanche and her husband Herbert Cornelius Earl, in 1896.

Atkinson's compositions include services, anthems, over 20 songs and some Masonic Music.  His most well-known hymn tune is the metre Morecambe (sometimes known as Hellespont) which is variously set, most usually to O God our Father, who dost make us one but also to My goal is God Himself  (Mission Praise) or Spirit of God, descend upon my heart.  His most popular composition locally was his Morning Service in D, sung 342 times at Norwich Cathedral between October 1870 and January 1914.   An Evening Service in D remained popular at St. Martin at Palace and St. Saviour's.   

F.C. Atkinson was the last Norwich-born person to be appointed organist of the Cathedral.  No Organist of Norwich Cathedral since has come from Norwich. 


See above under Garland.  

Frederic G. Kitton  A Centenary Memoir, Zechariah Buck.

Tom Roast - One Hundred Pupils of Zechariah Buck (correction from One Hundred Pupils after correspondence with author settles date of death as above).

Alfred Robert Gaul

Alfred R. Gaul was born at Norwich on 30th April 1837 and died on 13th September 1913 in Birmingham.  He came from a musical family: his father, John Gaul, although a shuttle maker in the weaving trade, played the trumpet in the Triennial Festivals 1836-1854.

Alfred joined the cathedral choir aged 9, left it in 1853 and was articled to Buck.  "The boy's conduct was so good as a chorister" that Buck returned the apprentice fee to him.  Not long into his articles (probably 1854), he became organist at Fakenham Parish Church where he started singing, glee and madrigal classes and composed music for a new church opening at Hempton.

In June 1859, Gaul was appointed organist and choirmaster at St. John's Church, Ladywood, Birmingham, remaining in that city for the rest of his life.  In 1863 he obtained his BMus degree at St. John's College, Cambridge and married Charlotte Cory, who originally came from Fakenham and died in 1918 aged 77.  They were to have six children (Emily, Lillian, Percy, Ethel, Claud and Evelyn). In 1868 he became the first organist and choirmaster of St. Augustine's, Edgbaston, a position he occupied for 45 years.  Additional musical appointments ensued (eg. conductor of the Walsall Philharmonic Society).  He twice declined an opportunity to return to Norwich Cathedral.  A few weeks after he retired, he died, aged 76.

Gaul was a prolific composer who admired Mendelssohn's works.  His style appealed to amateur musicians and at one time it was thought he earned more from royalties than anyone else in the land.  His compositions included 11 cantatas, 22 anthems, 26 choral works, 7 other sacred pieces, 8 hymn tunes (including Edgbaston and Hempton), 4 carols, 26 songs (some for school use), 8 duets, trios and glees, 2 operettas, an oratorio, 11 piano and 5 organ pieces.  His cantatas were sung by musical societies throughout Norfolk and by the Ber Street Wesleyan Chapel Choral Association.  Several numbers were published separately as church anthems. His most popular work was the cantata, The Holy City [not to be confused with Adams very popular solo work of that name], and the items No shadows yonder and God so loved the world from this were regularly sung between 1887 and 1899 by the choirs at St. Saviour's church, Norwich and the cathedral, respectively.

Hearing the Music

CDs accompanying the scores of music compiled by Joan F. Boytim feature Gaul's music as follows:

Come ye blessed - The First Book of Mezzo-Soprano/Alto Solos Part II;

These are they which come - The Second Book of Soprano Solos;

Eye hath not seen - The Second Book of Mezzo-Soprano/Alto Solos.

Eye hath not seen  is also on the CD accompanying Favorite Sacred Classics for Solo Singers: Medium Low voice by Patrick M. Liebergen.

My soul is athirst for God sung by Reed Miller may be heard (free of charge) on the Library of Congress, National Jukebox.  The Holy City is sometimes performed by choirs, recently for example by the Hong Kong Oratorio Society.


NGDM Vol. 9

See above under Garland.  

Tom Roast - One Hundred Pupils of Zechariah Buck.

Frederic Nicholls Lohr

Frederic N. Lohr was born in Norwich on 10th January 1844 and died in Plymouth on 18th December 1888.  He was the son of William Lewis Lohr junior, a cashier at the East of England Bank.  

In origin, the Lohrs were a German family who came to England at the beginning of the nineteenth century.  Frederic's grandfather, William Lewis Lohr (senior), settled in Norwich as a silk manufacturer and later became Master of the Great Hospital.  William Lewis Lohr junior was his third son; George Augustus Lohr his second son.  The latter, after being trained by Zechariah Buck, became organist at St. Margaret's, Leicester.  During his time there, St. Margaret's had the finest choir in Leicester.

At an early age Frederic was cared for by his uncle, George Augustus, at Leicester.  Recognising his musical talent, his uncle arranged for him to be articled to Zechariah Buck in Norwich.  During this time, Frederic trained the choir at Great Hautbois and played the harmonium there.  On completing his articles, he returned to Leicester where he acted as his uncle's assistant, was accompanist to the Leicester Harmonic Society and held the post of organist at St. John's Church. In 1864, at the age of 20, he was selected from 49 candidates for the job of organist at Helston, Cornwall, where he also established a choral class.

In 1866 Frederic married Ida Mary Mursell (1844-1910) of Leicester, eldest daughter of Reverend James Philippo Mursell and Ann Berkeley.  Frederic moved to Plymouth in 1866 where he stayed for the rest of his life. There they had 3 children (Evelyn Mary, Victor P and Hermann Frederic [twins] - the latter also became a composer).   He was organist at Sherwell Congregational chapel from 1866-1876 and from 1869 conductor of the Plymouth Amateur Vocal Association.   Under his direction concerts of oratorios were put on.

He was most noteworthy as a composer and song writer, probably composing around 120 pieces of music (excluding material produced for schools).  Apart from a cantata for ladies' voices, 5 other sacred works, 7 pieces for piano, and a few other items, these are all songs.  A little under half the songs are settings of words by the poet and composer F.E. Weatherley.  The most popular piece was Needles and pins, which sold around 20,000 copies in its first year.  Edward Bunnett, organist to the Norwich corporation, articled to Buck and a former colleague of Lohr's, in his popular concerts at St. Andrew's Hall included performances of Lohr's Out on the deep, Margarita, and Gondola  song

Frederic Lohr died of typhoid fever in Plymouth on 18th December 1888, aged 44. 

Hearing the Music

Songs and ballads by Weatherley and F.N. Lohr remain popular with some singers and may be heard as teaching material or in concerts. 


Tom Roast - One Hundred Pupils of Zechariah Buck.

Arthur Henry Mann 

A. H. Mann was born in Norwich on 16th May 1850, the youngest child of Henry and Ann Mann of Tombland, and died in Cambridge on 19th November 1929.  At the time of his birth, his father was working as a music teacher.

Initially a trial-boy (1857) Mann became a full chorister at Norwich Cathedral aged 10, a few months after the death of his father.  He left the choir in June 1865 and was an articled pupil to Zechariah Buck for 5 years.  Throughout the years of his training, Buck made an allowance of £20 a year to his widowed mother, apparently in fulfilment of a promise made to Henry Mann before he died that he would 'see his son into the world'. His own reflection of Norwich was, 'The City . . . I spent a wonderfully happy boyhood in' (1903 Lecture).  The choir school registers for 1860-62 give a slightly different perspective with entries such as 'Mann and Butler naughty at Church' (2nd April 1860) and 'Mann gave much trouble this evening' (5th May 1862).   

Mann was appointed organist of St. Peter's Church, Wolverhampton in June 1870 and Tettenhall Parish Church in 1871.  There he met and married Sarah Ann Ransford in 1875 (died 1918). They had four children.  Briefly organist for about six months at Beverley Minster, he was appointed to King's College, Cambridge on 7th June 1876 - where he stayed for the rest of his life, the longest serving organist there.  He took the FRCO diploma in 1871 followed by the Oxford degrees of BMus (1874) and DMus (1882).   At the service on 12th December 1899 in Norwich Cathedral for the dedication of the new re-built 5 manual organ, Mann was the one to play the instrument.  He was appointed university organist in 1897, received the honorary degree of MA from Cambridge in 1910 and was elected a fellow of King's College on 25th November 1921.  A memoir was printed privately in the College in 1930.

When Mann went to King's College, Cambridge, the chapel choir was the worst of the three college chapel choirs that maintained daily services.  Fifty years later it had become, and continues to be, the most famous in the world.  Mann accomplished this transformation by persuading the college to establish a choir school and replacing the lay clerks gradually with academical clerks (or choral scholars), and by a winning combination of personal qualities - ruthlessness, tact, personal kindliness and singleness of purpose - that he may have seen modelled in Zechariah Buck.

Mann was said to have achieved great success (Chronicle 5th Nov. 1905) as chorus master of the Norfolk and Norwich Triennial Festival (1900-1907). 

Mann was a composer of sacred choral music, chants and at least 93 hymn tunes, most notably for the first Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols in 1919 he harmonised the tune Irby used for the carol Once in Royal David's City that has since become the standard.  His anthems O taste and see and O love the Lord were both sung at Norwich Cathedral over 50 times from 1886-1911.   He devoted himself, too, to a wide range of scholarly activities, especially concerning Handel, hymn books and East Anglian music and musicians.  It is thanks to his activities that we have a considerable amount of historical material on which to draw that would otherwise have been lost.


NGDM Vol. 15.

See above under Garland and Atkinson (and correspondence with Tom Roast re correct date of marriage).  

Arthur Henry Mann  - Old Norwich cathedral musicians: text of a lecture given by Dr. A.H. Mann, 5 March 1903.                     

Vaughan Brooks

 (Revised) July 2012